September 30, 2010

The Importance of Transylvania.

The importance of Transylvania is not only its history and culture, but it is also it GDP.  Its GDP is 35% of the total of Romania.

When you have a lower percentage than that in population or in Google popularity, this is a very interesting stat.

September 28, 2010

Do you Know what Happens When you Google the Term Transylvania?

Well do you really know?

Since this is a blog on Transylvania Romania (as in a part of the country of Romania) I thought it would be interesting to show you something I learned about researching information on Google.

Type in the term :Transylvania, and you will be surprise to find that the second highest ranked information for that term is the movie "Transylvania"

It is only when you begin to get more specific that you will find what you are looking for.  An example is type in Transylvania, Romania, and then the highest on the list is wikipedia information followed by tourism Romania.

The reason this is interesting is that as a world heritage site, with so many UNESCO sites in Transylvania, one would think that you would be able to get more information simply by using Google.  It is found on Transylvania, Romania, and there must be more information than simply wikipedia.

Of course mind you, if I added something on Dracula then I would get a lot more sites than just by writing the place where heis character lived.

September 25, 2010

Transylvania: The Land, Resources and Points of View

There are many ways that one can view the term resource, for many when they hear the term resource they think of natural resources and how that can build up a country and its wealth.  Of course there are other resources such as the people and the local cultures and history.

Looking at Transylvania there can be a simple explanation to many things one: why is Transylvania not a country of its own?

I was asked why I believe that Transylvania never became a country of its own, and at first I thought it was the culture, there are many Hungarians and Romanians, so it would explain why they wanted to be a part of Romania or Hungary.  Still, now the more I think of this question the more I believe that natural resources were the key to not being the country of Transylvania.

Transylvania has a lot of primary resources, from oil in the south to fertile lands and plenty of forests and of course the stone and other natural minerals which are now valuable in the global economy.  Transylvania also did not have a large standing army of its own, and it did not have a large population in comparison to other countries such as Hungary or Chek or Slovak or Romania.

Transylvania does have a strong cultural past, which is good, but it is the resources of the land that made it something to be valued.

September 24, 2010

In Search of My Past in Transylvania

Oral History is a big factor in many people's lives.  Something that binds the generations together. Of course some stroies can be discounted but some require a bit more investigation.

Or a lot of investigation.

I am trying to write down the history of my family. and it is a bit harder than anticipated since everyone has their own memories.  Some tell me that the school house ( which I know has two rooms!) had three or even only one, and that there was simply candles burning.

Except that they would then say that the houses were lit up with lights... so why not the school house in the 1930s?

Still is is fun writing down oral history and making it come alive, and searching is one way to uncover the past.

September 18, 2010

How Much Time or Money are You Willing to Spend on History?

Transylvania is not an easy subject to get information on.  For one thing it is located in a country which was a part of the Soviet bloc, and access to much of the information is hard to come by, or in many cases has been destroyed when smaller villages were razed to the ground to build up larger cities.

So, the question is how much time are you willing to put in to find out history, or how much money are you willing to spend to do the same?

Both are important when trying to dig for information, not only to verify what oral history is tell you but to also make certain that you have dates and facts correct.  Not that you should not trust people's memories, but in my case, writing about the Second World war and the Saxons, the people in question are a lot older.

So it is off to fax machines and emails and time, of course which is precious.  This means you spend a lot of time and money on information gathering.  To me, it makes it worthwhile.  As for me, information is priceless.

September 15, 2010

Village Churches In Transylvania

Lutheran Church outside of Bistritsa Now Romanian Orthodox
The village Churches in Transylvania were designed along the same lines as the city churches except that they were put more or less in the center of the town.

This is found outside of the city of Bistritsa.

September 11, 2010

Transylvania and Churches: World Heritage Sites

The Fortified Church of Biertan
The interesting fact about Transylvania beyond the usual agriculture and mining communities is the religious aspect that can be found there.

For example the crowing of the King and Queen of Greater Romania was in Alba Iluia, and there is an ancient medieval church there.

In this case, this is the Saxon fortified church of Biertan.  It is a small community near to the city of Sibiu.  (It is in fact in Sibui County.  Still it is one of the most impressive fortified churches and was the see of the Transylvanian Lutheran Bishop at one point.

It is beautiful, and one of the many UNESCO heritage sites found in Transylvania.

September 9, 2010

World Heritage Site: Transylvania

I was looking through wikipedia, and found that to my delight the fortified churches of the Saxon people are a part of the UNESCO world heritage site.
One such city includes Sibiu, which was the "heart and soul" of the Saxon people. Even today up until 1941 the majority of the population was German Saxon, unlike many of the other "German big seven" (which includes Bistritsa.)
I suspect the reason for the designation is the fact that the city has survived war ( many of them. from the Mongols invasion onwards until the Second World War) and much of the history is different from the rest of Transylvania due to the fact that the city was populated by Saxons who were the majority.
Sibiu was the center for religion and for economy and for the most part education in the heart of the German population. Still it is an interesting place.

September 6, 2010

Gold and Religion in Transylvania

The one thing which never seems to be a "thing" that people talk about together is gold and religion, but I was able to talk to a few people about the religious elements and the people who built the churches.  Part of what made Transylvania so important to the Romans was the gold found within many mines such as Roșia Montană where there were many mines founded by the Romans. It was close to what would become the cite of Alba Iulia.

For the Romans, and later the many kingdoms who would have Transylvania, gold, and other natural resources, was the key to everything- and their base of power.  The Catholic church would have many of their major churches decorated with gold another precious metals.

The one thing that was mentioned by many authors and people I have spoken to was the "luxury" of the wood cravings, but also of the golden candelabra that adorned the Churches. Since there was gold in the mountains it should have come as no surprise, but because of the existence of the farmers and the workers in the regions it came as a surprise to me.

Many villages, and villagers, lived a subsistence existence, yet their religion had enough gold in the churches- the Catholic churches especially- to buy enough food for them and their families for years. People would work hard to crave wood and other items for the churches without any monetary returns. Roșia Montană still produces much of the gold in Transylvania, and has been since the Bronze age.

Some tourism offers allow for people to bike from Alba Iulia to some of the ancient sites in the area.  The ruins are often mines, but along the way there are many places of worship to be found.

September 4, 2010

Transylvania Gold

Yes there is such a thing as Transylvania Gold. Look close at this picture and specifically on the head of queen Maria of Romania. Her crown, is made of Gold mined in Transylvania.
So, there is such a thing as Transylvania gold, and there is such a thing as a crowning of the King and Queen of Greater Romania in 1922, almost 8 years after they ascended the throne of Romania.  The reason for this delay was twofold: one King Carol I died in 1914 after the outbreak on the Frist World War.

Two: The treaty of Paris was completed in 1919, and Queen Maria wanted to have teh coronation in Transylvania.

September 3, 2010

Transylvania and Military: Arthur Arz von Straussenburg

This is a bit of a past forgotten and but of history on the real people of Transylvania. Not Dracula! Arthur Arz von Straussenburg was a Saxon, and an ethnic German in Transylvania. He was also a part of AutroHungary Empire in its military, and fought as a General during World War I.
What I found most interesting about this man is, although he was a good strategist, he followed a lot of orders. Of course when he became general, Franz Joesph was dead and Emperor Karl was reigning.
Still, He was a part of a time in history that proved that changed Europe. Still he took responsibility for failure, which is unique. In a way, it was sad to learn of his last days living in Hungary and dying in near poverty after the defeat of Austria during World War I.
I wonder what he would have thought of Transylvania today.

September 1, 2010

Transylvania at Present

I was looking through old photos that my family has, and other than this photo being in colour of Bistritsa not much seems to have changed.
So, I would argue that Transylvania at present is still very much like it was centuries before and I suspect that change is slow simply because the place developed its own life slowly.
Still, it would be interesting to see a change, but for me, this means that for work, a slow change to the landscape is better than a quick change.